Consumption Literacy Project
12000 E. 47th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80239
info@consumptionliteracy.org
austine@consumptionliteracy.org
(720) 663-1771

(c) 2015 Consumption Literacy Project

Our Background and History

Feet in Soil.  

 

That is how this all started, as a young girl walking along the fossilized shorelines of Manitoulin Island, barefoot of course.  Exploring the earth underneath, like a grand mansion housing every bug ever imagined.  Flipping over rocks just to see what would scramble out.  The feeling was so comfortable with unapologetic curiosity, so at ease with wondering, no fear of feeling like a stupid question had been asked or that she would be called out for not listening.  School was different than the summer cedar woods on Manitoulin Island.  Here, the island was a great teacher gently and patiently encouraging me to ask another question, and another.  Never annoyed by the time it took to let me wonder, as if time and space had found another, much slower dimension.  

 

Twenty years later, I taught some college students about climate change but some of them didn’t want to hear it.  After fumbling through this feeling of frustration trying to make sense out of the seeming indifference, in some cases what felt like outright rejection, I let go.  I let go of the urge of wanting to change them.  Instead, I embraced an opportunity to guide by sharing my own experiences of working through the seemingly mundane day to day decisions where consumption and waste are embedded in everything we do.  That became interesting to them.  One student found that Caress Body Soap was full of ingredients that contradicted her idea of a healthy body, another student was dismayed to find that her Apple computer purchase perpetuated the very social injustice of labor abuse that she was outwardly against.  I called this kind of thinking "Consumption Literacy" and crafted a dissertation to look at what kinds of learning my students experienced.  I found that they enjoyed "thinking for themselves", they enjoyed the content because it made so much sense in their lives.  We have taken this philosophy of educating age groups across the spectrum about the environment through a new pedagogy.  A way of guiding learning that moves forward, constantly evolving our understanding of how what we do has these minute, and collectively massive, impressions on the world we live in, then activating our ideas and creating change in the world.